Fate of California Children’s Health Program Hangs in the Balance
Broad coalition urges Legislature to vote "no" on the Healthy Families elimination in the budget
Sacramento, CA - Amidst growing outrage with a budget deal reached by the Governor and legislative leaders last week that jeopardizes access to health care for California's most vulnerable children, a coalition of organizations representing children, pediatricians and other health providers, faith congregations, and clinics demanded that the Legislature and the Governor remove the Healthy Families elimination from the Budget Trailer Bill.
More than 60 organizations, including the California Medical Association; American Academy of Pediatrics, California; children's advocates; health clinics; health plans; Latino organizations; and faith groups urged policymakers to reject the plan to eliminate the Healthy Families Program and shift nearly 900,000 children to Medi-Cal.
"Shifting children out of a popular, successful program, with no guarantee that they’ll have access to health providers, is an unprecedented and reckless experiment with the health of our children," said Suzie Shupe, Executive Director of California Coverage & Health Initiatives. "The shift will also have a disproportionate impact on Latino children, who make up nearly half of Healthy Families children."
Advocates warned that moving all Healthy Families children to the Medi-Cal program will severely impact access to health care for the 4.5 million children who rely on both of these programs by putting increased pressure on a fragile system.
“The move to eliminate the Healthy Families Program would be devastating for the nearly 900,000 children throughout California who depend on the program for medical care,” James T. Hay, M.D., President, California Medical Association (CMA) said. “What the Governor has proposed will ensure that those kids now have a harder time getting access to care.”
"Pediatricians are extremely concerned about the access consequences of the Governor's proposal. Many providers that participate in Healthy Families do not participate in Medi-Cal," said Kris Calvin, Chief Executive Officer of American Academy of Pediatrics, California. "We don't want the kids those providers care for to be without access or to get costly care in the emergency room as a result of this massive, poorly thought-out shift in service delivery."
"Eliminating Healthy Families is also a terrible budget decision that puts additional revenue at risk," added Ted Lempert, President of Children Now. In order to score savings of $13 million in the upcoming fiscal year, this plan jeopardizes the opportunity to draw down nearly $200 million for each of the next two years through a continuation of an industry-supported managed care organization (MCO) assessment that California relies on to fund children’s health care.
The currently Healthy Families enrollment for each county can be found at: http://www.mrmib.ca.gov/mrmib/HFP/May_12/HFPRpt2A.pdf.
The statement signed by a broad coalition of organizations is below:
"Governor Brown and Members of the California Legislature:
The undersigned leaders of organizations representing children, health providers, health plans, and clinics urge you to vote no on provisions in the Trailer Bill related to the Healthy Families Program. In a budget decision different from what the Legislature approved in the budget it sent to the Governor, the agreement reached on June 20 regarding Trailer Bill provisions for Healthy Families needlessly jeopardizes access to health care for California’s children by eliminating the Healthy Families Program and shifting nearly 900,000 children into Medi-Cal.
This decision recklessly puts at risk the health of millions of California’s children. Medi-Cal already faces serious challenges in providing access to care for its enrollees and is straining to adequately serve them. By putting increased pressure on an already very fragile Medi-Cal system, this plan will endanger the health of as many as 4.5 million children – those who now rely on Medi-Cal as well as the additional Healthy Families children who would transition into Medi-Cal within a very short timeframe.
The decision is also flawed from a budget standpoint. In order to score savings of $13 million in the upcoming fiscal year ($58 million and $73 million in future years), this plan jeopardizes the opportunity to draw down nearly $200 million for each of the next two years through a continuation of the Managed Care Organization (MCO) assessment. This is an unsound fiscal move that makes no budget sense for California.
Our organizations oppose this move because it would be harmful to children and to the state’s fiscal health. We respectfully ask the Legislature and the Governor to remove the Healthy Families elimination and transfer plan reflected in the Trailer Bill.
Thank you for your consideration.
Lesley Cummings, former Executive Director, Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (2004-2010)
Sam Burg, DDS, pediatric dentist from Santa Maria, CA
ACT for Women and Girls
American Academy of Pediatrics - California District
Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action
Cal-Islanders Humanitarian Association
California Academy of Family Physicians
California Black Health Network
California Children’s Hospital Association
California Coverage & Health Initiatives
California Family Resource Association
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
California Medical Association
California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
California Primary Care Association
California School Health Centers Association
California State Rural Health Association
Central Valley Health Network
Children’s Defense Fund-California
Children’s Health Initiative of Santa Barbara County
Children’s Specialty Care Coalition
Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Inc.
Community Health Councils, Inc.
Community Health Partnership
Congregations Building Community - Modesto
Congregations Organizing for Renewal
Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM)
Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization
EQUAL Health Network
Faith in Community - Fresno
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County
Fresno Center for New Americans
Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM)
Greater Long Beach Area Interfaith Community Organization
Guam Communications Network
Health Access California
Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County
Healthy Kids Healthy Future Regional Children's Health Initiative
Hmong Health Collaborative
Inland Congregations United for Change
Lao Family Community Empowerment, Inc.
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
Latino Health Alliance
Local Health Plans of California
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health
Merced Organizing Project
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
Oakland Community Organization
Orange County Congregation Community Organization
National Council of Jewish Women
Peninsula Interfaith Action
People Acting in Community Together (PACT) San Jose
People Acting in Community Together (PACT) Stockton
Placer People of Faith Together
Santa Barbara County Children’s Oral Health Collaborative Executive Committee
Sacramento Area Congregations Together
San Francisco Organizing Project
Southeast Asian Assistance Center
Street Level Health Project
The Children’s Partnership
United Ways of California
Venice Family Clinic
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